Symbolism Run Amok

In the middle of my research I happen to come across a couple of post. One on Bushwack’s blog and the other on Mr Grey Ghost’s blog.

Bushwhack is promoting a day of fasting for conservatives to counter some anti-war fasting campaign pushed by Cindy Sheehan. This, he and others claim is a way of showing their support for out troops.

Grey Ghost posted a picture of the statue of liberty holding a cross rather than a torch. The pastor for the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church commissioned this statue.

The pastor said:

"People don't talk about Christ anymore and our morals are gone," Williams said. "People cannot drive by our statue without thinking about their relationship with God."

This is my issue: Americans are consumed with symbolic gestures in lieu of real action. We have a government that wastes time and money debating and passing non-binding bills. We have a government that debate social issues, present bills that they know won't pass for the purpose of getting a vote on record so they can use it for re-election purposes.

We have anti-war protesters doing rolling fasts and people countering them with a fast of their own.

We have conservatives fighting to get stickers placed on science books that say evolution is only a theory. They fight for prayer in school but they see no need to teach kids any spiritual lessons that are the basis for prayer.

We are inundated with quasi-political intellects debating serious issues with catch phrases and talking points. “Liberals hate America”, “Conservatives are evil”, and the list goes on and on.

Get Real

If you want to do something, why not do something that matters. If you don’t like the war, cool. Go to the polls and vote. You don’t believe the government is taking care of our veterans. Raise that issue, raise some money to assist those veterans. One march is cool, but damn - at some point marches become an excuse to get out of work, chill, yell then go home. It accomplishes nothing as the case with fasting.

You want to counter the fast and show support for the troops. Fine, raise some money and present it to the numerous families that are suffering because the deployments have reduced family income. Why not host a day of "celebration and information" for Iraq war veterans. I think a nice barbecue with organizations setting up booths to provide information and assistance to veterans would be more helpful than fasting for a day.

Church folks, you think this country is Godless – well, maybe you should do more outreach. Why spend $206,000 on a statue when can use that money to sponsor outreach or provide additional support to ministries. Is a statue more effective than a person who has a testimony when it comes to getting people to think about their relationship with God?

We have become a nation of slogans and gestures. Imagine if you will Rev. Martin Luther King petitioning his followers to build a statue of Fredrick Douglass rather than conduct a march in Selma Alabama. What if Vivian Malone Jones would have decided fast for a day to protest her denial into the University of Alabama?

I don’t really agree with the Minutemen, but they want the government to secure the borders. It hasn’t. So they took action.

I’m not fasting, marching or burning anything for any cause. If we support a mission of an organization or movement, we should want to see tangible results. If I’m a member of a church, I can’t support them using our money to build a replica of the Statue of Liberty – for what. The church’s mission is to preach and teach the word of God… what’s 70 foot statue have to do with that.

I support our troops but I see no reason to fast to show my support. Why? How is me not eating going to help a veteran who is deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Hell, I’m saying I’m going to take action to support the troops then partake in an event where I don’t even come in contact with one.

It makes no sense.


35 Responses to Symbolism Run Amok

  1. mark Says:
    Yo James good post I think black people suffer from this big time. Seems like a lot of times we come together to get something done but spend the whole time talking about what the problem is. Thus we end up getting nothing done.
  2. Bullfrog Says:
    James, you are on a roll man! I think this is the 3rd blog in a row where I am the first commenter, yes! I don't even have anything to say... just kidding.

    I agree that we focus alot on what I call non-strategic things as Americans. To us, getting some PR for whatever cause we happen to support IS doing something, shame really. Ranting and raving is a start to making a difference, but not the end.

    We love to yell and let our thoughts and opinions on a subject be known (that's why I have a blog, how bout you?).

    Even the media contributes to this, when was the last time you saw a news story about something relevant to our place in the world? Americans are some of the most uninformed when it comes to the rest of the world. Read the news published in other countries, they know more about us than we do in some cases!

    All of this leads us to a place where we are complacent and comfortable. We take advantage of our freedom and sit around indulging our senses to our own detriment.

    As far as fasting, there are those of us that believe a fast, when called for by God, can be a very effective tool, but usually God will call you to act in some way once He leads the way, so it isn't an excuse to sit around waiting for something to happen.
  3. Bullfrog Says:
    So much for being first. If I wasn't so long-winded...
  4. James Manning Says:
    Yep. I have nothing against Tavis Smiley symposiums - but I've never seen anything concrete come from them. I fully supported the first million man march because the start of any movement requires motivating the people and it was the right thing for the right time. But I saw no purpose for the second march since the first generated only a feel-good moment.
  5. James Manning Says:

    Yes, the coveted first slot goes to mark.

    I agree. I do believe there is a spiritual element to fasting - though I've done it only sparingly. At this moment, like I mention on Bush's blog. I can think of only two reasons to fast.

    1. I'm broke.
    2. I'm dead.

    And we are sooooo unaware as to what is happening around the world. The news is a joke. I don't even watch the local news anymore.
  6. mark Says:
    Yo James this I fully agree with you about not supporting the second million man march. I thought the last in 05 was just people getting together and talking to her themselves talk. I despise folks( especially the super duper militant folks)who are only armchair revolutionaries. I absolutely despise clowns that talk about the man, media, and how supposedly racist they are without doing anything or offering any alternatives. Mark
  7. James Manning Says:
    Exactly Mark,

    I was a mentor for five years in my old neighborhood. I was mentoring the sons of guys I went to school with. I'd see these fathers on the street and we'd all agree how the neighborhood changed and the kids are running wild (can you spot the irony in the previous sentence?).

    But whenever I tried to get these cats to help with the mentoring, they were nowhere to be found. When I requested funds for activities and equipment - man I came up short on the loot.

    It was some frustrating crap - but I did it for five years.

    On the political side, I think conservatives have mastered symbolism like no other. They actually believe that half of the American people are out to destroy America.
  8. BlackLabelAxe Says:

    That's one hell of a post, and a very important issue that you bring up. It seems everybody wants to bark, and nobody is willing to bite. We'll vote for new people to stand around and keep doing the same thing until it's time to vote for more new people to keep doing the same old thing.

    The two most important issues our country faces right now:

    -The energy crisis/alternative fuel
    -The Fair Tax/abolishment of income tax

    Let's put our money where our mouths are and set America free for our generation!

    I hope you don't mind me trolling your blog. I saw where Bushwack identified you as a liberal blogger, and I just wanted to check out some of your rants. I write with BigNewsDay, but I'm not a liberal in any way (and I'm not a neo-con either).

    BTW: I'm a former college football player, so I'll talk football anytime.
  9. BlackLabelAxe Says:
    I agree that some Kool-Aid partisans are trying to convince America that we're under attack from our own opinion, and here is why they're doing it:

    “Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

    Who said that?

    It's scary how relevant....

    Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring
    Luftwaffe Commander 1940-1945
    (the quote came from his testimony at the Nuremburg Trials in 1946)
  10. Timmer Says:
    Excellent post Manning. I have long regarded fasting and staute building as a tool of self-gratification rather than a means to serve any sort of purpose. Growing up in a Conservative community, I have seen way too many folks espouse fasting as a way to coerce God into answering prayers and as a handy way to save money. It's a joke, especially when I have heard a friend congratulate himself while many others are listening for a fast-well-done. If one is going to fast, I would suggest first of all keeping it quiet and then using the money one would use in a day to sponsor a needy child. But that is a tangent.

    I understand your frustration, and bullfrog's frustration...I have felt it very badly in these last couple of weeks. We gladly substitute 'discussion' and symbolic gestures for real action because it is a way for us to decrease our own responsibility for an issue. I am guilty of it myself. My own feeling is that we need to realize that in our inaction towards a given issue we do contribute - negatively. In short, I agree - The only way to contribute positively is by real action.
  11. James Manning Says:
    Welcome black,

    I actully have you blog saved and one of my favorites. And yes, this is the liberal side of the blogasphere though we welcome all and the only hate allowed is that which is directed at Notre Dame football or the Dallas Cowboys (Hatred of my beloved Bears is not allowed)

    And the quote is so on point. The divide and conqure rhetoric is a staple of human politics. The same case is made with the idea that anti-war activist lost the Vietnam war. That's one I should go into on a post. Maybe.
  12. Bloviating Zeppelin Says:
    Talk and fasting and bombastic pomposity do nothing. The reason I DO respect the Minutemen is because they got together to commit to ACTION -- disagree with them all you want, they TOOK ACTION where our government would not.

    I can always respect men of action, and I'm sure do too.

    Words mean little these days -- despite the fact that my blog and yours is nothing if not ALL about words.

    James: your mentoring: that was ACTION and God bless you for your ACTIONS above and beyond merely harping about situations -- you took ACTIVE STEPS and that tells me VOLUMES about you as a Man.

  13. Bloviating Zeppelin Says:
    Oh waitaminnit, you like the Bears? Anyone who likes a team in the Black & Blue Division has my immediate RESPECT.

    BEARS, yeah!

    My team: the Packers. But the Bears? Yeah baby, go CHICAGO.

  14. James Manning Says:
    BZ, Bears all the way. I'm a Favre fan - well, I do like Green Bay. I use to hate everyone in the Black and Blue except the Bears but now I like all of them.

    Never a sunrise will I greet with love Cowboys in my heart... this is promise... this is my truth.

    Action is something that I respect as well. Sometimes symbolic gestures are required but only to motivate during the initial call to action.

    I liken symbolic gestures to taking SAT prep classes then not showing up for the actual exam - then claiming you did well on the sample test... What for? The prep was to PREPARE you for the real thing.

    How can you plant rose and expect it to grow and you don't even know where the seed goes?
  15. Diane S. Says:
    I don't know James. I think there is a time and a place for symbolic gestures. In a way, the march on Selma was a symbolic gesture. So was the Montgomery Bus Boycott. And the sit-ins. Symbolic gestures moved us a long way.

    But I think your point of taking real and meaningful action is well taken. I would be livid if my church built a Statue of Liberty holding a cross because I actually support the separation of church and state. Why are these people in such an uproar? Have you seen the government burning bibles? Closing churches? Jailing evangelicals?

    Biblically, the Church is called to do many things. I think until we are actually doing all of those things (caring for the poor and the infirm, comforting the lonely, visiting the prisoners, providing food for the hungry and medical care for the sick) that we have no business involving ourselves in such petty, silly, nonsense.

    Symbolic action will never replace actual action. But when there is nothing you can do but make a symbolic gesture, I think you should make it.

    There is nothing personally I can do to stop the war. So I blog against it. That is largely a symbolic act. It does nothing to bring any of the soldiers home. It does nothing to comfort the Iraqi people. I will vote my conscience at the polls, but these days I'm not so sure that isn't just a symbolic act too.

    Will I fast? No. But that's a personal choice. I won't fast because I'm not famous and no one would care. But if you've got the media on you, then fasting becomes a relevant thing.

    My two cents.
  16. Diane S. Says:
    I can't bring up your post from the 11th. Is that a Blogger thing, or is the title a statement?
  17. mark Says:
    Yo James I was thinking that because of the blogging revolution more black men are writiing and reading probably than any other point in the history. I feel confident that thier will be some truly proggressive brothas who will start linking with like minds to bring about change. All of this things apply to all folks with access to the net. I only mention black men because its pretty obvious to me that we do less reading and writing than almost any other group in the country.
  18. Bushwack Says:
    James, The support I wish to show with the fast is support for the organizer Mastergunner, If he thinks it will help even one member of our military in harms way I'm all for supporting him in his efforts.

    As far as the next step, We are putting together a BBQ for military families to show our support and gratitude with all proceeds going to help those returning.

    Football? Panthers baby!! We got the two best WR in the league under a great coach and an Awesome defense to boot, I have already sent out Superbowl invites for the panthers vs "Losers" 2006 NFL Championship is going to Charlotte.
    You know I wish you luck tho.
  19. mark Says:
    Its all about the Redskins . Secondly its all about hating the cobows. Yuck. Mark. Yo Bush and James are you guys feeling icehouse or is that a little to working class for you folks.
  20. james manning Says:
    Icehouse gives me a headache, but it's better than Miller (anything)

    I'll give 2 points for hating the cowboys and -.5 points for being a redskins fan but I'll add 1 point for being brave enough to admit it.

    Diane, I agree there is a place for symbolic gestures but I don't think the Selma march was symbolic because it involved considerable risk. now, had they not crossed that bridge then it would have been symbolic. But i get your point and I agree.

    and there are those of us who have no other tools except symbolic ones.
  21. Sherril Says:
    For What it's worth, I'm the 20th person to comment here and maybe enough has been said. But, I agree with Diane. I have attended many Marches throughout the years (two for Women's Reproductive Rights, one for Soviet Jewry, One called Hands Across America, and a few for Israel's Independence Day) and I will probably continue to attend. I have also stood before our County's Courthouse with signs against the so called Nuclear Option. I also spend time making phone calls to my Senators and Congresspeople and the White House about bills coming up and issues of concern to me. All of this is part of being what sometimes is called an activist. I would call it a CITIZEN. I have also done all of this as a way to tell my children that it is important to be aware of what is happening in our country politically and to be involved. Civics and civic duty is all but ignored in our schools today and that is a mistake. It makes for an uninformed and lacksidaisacal electorate. If you care, act. Acting is being a mentor (kudos, James, I have also done some volunteer literacy work locally), writing letters and emails, making phone calls, marching in front of your Representatives office AND participating in the large marches which yes, serve to make the people involved feel good, and it also gives you the opportunity to be in like minded company and to find other people who are doing the kinds of things you are (for example, James, if you were looking for other volunteer mentors, you are more likely to find them at a March for Literacy than in the neighborhood...unfortunate, but true).

  22. bold as love Says:
    Dayum James,
    This must be "rile up the natives" week, but that's one reason I like your blog- you make people think and respond. Personally I don't have much use for symbolism. I'm more of the just do the shit type of person.
  23. Bushwack Says:
    Mark, I've not tried Icehouse I assume it's a micro brew? Anyway I was a big Redskin fan until the Panthers joined the NFL.
    Go Panthers.
    Good luck to all of the football fans in James's circle and may your team not have to play the Panthers.....LOL
  24. James Manning Says:
    sherril, i do have to agree with you. there is a place for it but it seems that our culture is stuck in first gear and like bold said, sometime we have to be about doin' the damn thang.

    bush, you keep bringing up those damn panthers. man, i don't hold grudges but after what they did - no, after what steve smith did to my beloved, i can only wish on their home opener their stadium is visited upon by a swarm of locust and fire rain down on them from the heavens AND AT THE END THE ENTIRE TEAM IS TURNED INTO A PILLAR OF SALT AND THE ATLANTIC OCEAN SWELL TO LEVELS CAUSING THEIR STONED BODIES TO MELT INTO THE OCEAN AND THEY ARE SWEPT AWAY BY THE CURRENTS NEVER TO BE HEARD FROM AGAIN... bruuuhaHAHAHHAHAHA... but again, i don't grudges.
  25. Bushwack Says:
    James, Man I'm glad you don't hold grudges.
    BTW, BBQ on looks like May 19 2007 in order to do it and do it right. need time to get sponsors and permits. stay tuned it's going to be a lot of fun.
  26. BlackLabelAxe Says:
    Icehouse is actually a Miller product. They have their own brewery, but all the distribution is handled through Miller. It's a very common beer here in the southeast, often served on tap and certainly in bottles in every bar I know of.

    I've been an Atlanta Falcons fan since my dad proposed to my mom at a game many years before I was born. Hopefully Vick will be able to throw the ball this year and we'll have a balanced offense.
  27. mark Says:
    I really like Vick but dude got a problem with getting the ball to his recievers. His accuracy leaves a lot to be desired. As for the ice-house Im starting to sense uppitiness over beer when it comes to certain bloggers. I wont say any names. Peace. Mark

    P.S James I have a question regarding cartoons. Why do you think Starscream hated on Megatron so much?
  28. James Manning Says:

    I wasn't a big follower of that cartoon, but I think the dude was just full of himself but he was a coward.

    I know a little about Optimus Prime. But I'm one of those cats that was down with Battle of the Planets and Speed Racer
  29. Bushwack Says:
    Thats where I heard IceHouse before, Miller a great South African company. LOL Just realize when you buy any Miller product a good portion of the proffits go straight to South Africa. Look it up.
    SAB owns Miller. Molson Owns Coors
    Anheuser Busch is 99.5% American owned and also owns Grupo Modello in Mexico (A 50% share in it) Just some Beer knowledge from an unbiased man.

    BTW Blacklabel, Good luck on the season from a NASCAR division rival.
  30. BlackLabelAxe Says:

    Thanks on the good luck wishes, I very rarely watch except to enjoy Dale Jr. losing every race again.

    Dale Jr. is one of the worst role models in long, sad history of bad role models. I was hoping he would marry Brittney Spears. That would make my f'n day, actually. He's poorly spoken, priveledged so far beyond his actual ability that it's a crime, and he's a poor team player to top if off. I'll enjoy watching Tony Stewart blow his doors off all season.

    You're right that Miller is owned by SAB. It matters very little to me, because my dad has a very well-paying job here in Atlanta with Miller, and we're extremely American.
  31. mark Says:
    I could make a very strong argument that Speed Racer is one of the top 3 cartoons of all time. I would say # 1 but I dont want to provoke any bloggers who may mistakenly disagree. Mark
  32. Bushwack Says:
    Blacklabel, I meant in football
    Panthers,Falcons,Saints,Tampa Bay
    Known as the NASCAR South Division.
    I'm not a big NASCAR fan either I go to the race in Fontana every year just cause I get seats and free beer.

    As far as your dad working for Miller, Thats why I said proffits go out, I realize they pay good, most brewery's do. I have no doubt you are an American and never said otherwise.
    Subliminal messages working????
    Guess not.
    Go Panthers.
  33. BlackLabelAxe Says:
    Yeah, I drink German beer anyways, because it's better than everything else.

    Bud, Miller, and other American mainstream beers are pretty useless for anything besides washing food down.

    German beer, and some German-inspired American beers (eg, Shiner Bock) are what beer is all about. Everything else is a waste of time. There's something to be said about the German Purity Law when you can drink liter after liter after liter and never wake up with a hangover.

    German beer > all

    I'd suggest Paulaner, Hofbrau, Lowenbrau, Franziskaner, or Augustiner for beginners. The Weissbiers are where the true genious shows the most, but any of them will be remarkably better than anything else.
  34. BlackLabelAxe Says:
    ...either that, or the genEous of the writer becomes obvious.

    Cheers to all, and have a good weekend!


    After further review, FRANCE STILL LOST THE WORLD CUP!!!!

  35. Anonymous Says:
    best regards, nice info
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